Saliva plays an important role in your oral health. For starters, saliva works to neutralize the acids produced by bacteria in order to prevent tooth decay. It also helps to limit bacteria growth by flushing away food particles. Not only that, but saliva helps to give food its taste, as well as makes it easier to chew.
However, there are cases where your body may not produce an adequate amount of saliva. This is known as xerostomia or more commonly as dry mouth. Dry mouth can occur as a natural result of aging, however it can also occur as a side effect of medication or radiation, as well as by conditions that affect the salivary glands.
Because saliva is such an important part of your oral ecosystem, your dentist takes cases of dry mouth very seriously. The best treatment for dry mouth is to find ways to increase the flow of saliva. Here are some ways to increase saliva production and fix dry mouth:
Being dehydrated can contribute to your dry mouth and can make your symptoms worse. Therefore, it is important to make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day to stay properly hydrated.
Chewing sugar-free gum that contains xylitol has been found to be an effective way to increase the flow of saliva. Sucking on sugar-free candy is another way to naturally increase the amount of saliva in your mouth.
Mouth rinses are available to help moisturize your mouth and some can even be used as artificial saliva. Certain mouth rinses are specifically designed for people with dry mouth and contain xylitol, as well as additional protection against tooth decay.
Another option is to take special care to preserve what little saliva you do have. This can be accomplished by avoiding things that can further dry out your mouth, such as: caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and over the counter antihistamines or decongestants. You will also want to limit or avoid breathing through your mouth.
Using a humidifier or vaporizer to add moisture inside your home can help combat some of the symptoms associated with dry mouth. At the very least, it can help prevent your mouth from drying out further. Humidifiers are especially helpful when they are used while sleeping.
Since one main cause of dry mouth are medications that cause dry mouth, you will want to determine if this is a side effect of any medications you are taking. If so, you can speak with your doctor about switching to a different medication if possible. In some cases, your doctor may also prescribe something to promote salivary flow.
As you can see, there are several different ways to treat dry mouth. These different suggestions can be used individually or together to help fix dry mouth by increasing saliva production. In doing so, they can help to improve your oral health and reduce the risk of tooth decay. For more information, speak with your local dentist.
Dr. April Toyer became a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in 2011 and is proud to be a consultant for Committee of Sedation and Anesthesia within the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
The team at Lifetime Dental Care brings a full range of services to patients in and around the Woodbridge, VA area. These four doctors bring a range of experience, diverse backgrounds, and professional knowledge together to provide families with a safe and friendly home for their oral health needs.